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Squat Grip & Elbow Position

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  • Squat Grip & Elbow Position

    Hey Barbell Medicine,
    I know this topic has been talked about to death by the Starting Strength and Barbell Medicine crews, but I think I might need a fresh take on this topic. I've been lifting on and off for about 3 years, but around September I decided to get really serious and started my novice LP. I've made great progress, but the lateral side of my elbow has bothered me on and off since I began, definitely due to my squat grip. I usually just dismiss it as tennis elbow, go light for a few sessions, and then continue on until it inevitably returns in a few weeks/months. But just recently I moved my squat grip a bit narrower, and immediately after my first training session of doing this, the pain progressed from an ache in my elbow to a pretty bad aching pain all the way from my shoulder to my hand. Now ANY grip I take that is even somewhat stable causes me a great deal of irritation. I've watched every Barbell Medicine, Starting Strength, and Untamed Strength video I could find on the topic, I've read Starting Strength twice, and I have been following the methods described in the book to the best of my ability. I have watched Austin's presentations on pain and I have tried to use light weight and work back up, but the problem is even when I get in the squat position with a broomstick the pain comes back only a few minutes later. The pain I feel confident that I can deal with, if only I had a way to hold the bar that didn't re-hurt my arm every time I grab it. I could use some recommendations, thanks!

  • #2
    As this has been talked about at length here, I'm going to point you here first:

    And to quote my recent post on the topic:
    Ultimately, the thing that I find "works" the most reliably is getting the person to pay attention to where the weight is being held. If I can get them to ensure that the weight is being held "on the back", with minimal weight being held "in the arms", the pain tends to resolve. It's when you have the tendons around the elbow in persistent tension or compression while actively holding a significant proportion of the bar weight that they tend to get irritated.

    If things are severely irritated and sensitized, you may need to adjust things a bit more dramatically (say, high-bar or SSB squat only for a couple weeks). But, upon returning to the low bar squat, follow the above instructions. Set up and unrack, say, 135, and pay attention to how it feels -- are "all 135 lbs" on your back? Or is 75 lbs "on your back" and 60 lbs "in your arms"? Shift how you're carrying the bar to hold less on the arms and more on the back, and things should improve.
    IG / YT